D.C. Exhibit Highlights the Contributions of Haitians to American History

Josephine Mary Premice was one of the premier stage actresses of the 1940s and 1950s. She appeared in numerous Broadway plays, including “Blue Holiday,” “Jamaica,” “A Hand is on the Gate” and “Bubbling Brown Sugar,” garnering Tony-award nominations for her performances. Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., her parents were Haitian immigrants and part of the aristocracy of their birth country.

The Embassy of Haiti has embarked on a mission to share Haiti’s culture and history with a diverse audience in the United States. A new key vehicle in this effort is “Pearls of Excellence: An Exploration of Haitian Contributions to American Society,” an ongoing exhibit and educational series that marks historical milestones of Haitians in American history.

Since before the Civil War, Black Americans have worked in all arenas to ensure full civil rights and opportunities for their communities and every citizen in the nation. Many of these leading figures were immigrants from the Caribbean, with significant contributions from people of Haitian ancestry.

The “Pearls of Excellence” exhibit will feature noteworthy individuals who were born in Haiti, born to Haitian parents (either father or mother) or became Haitian citizens. They made history through significant professional achievement; their presence changed a major discipline or broke down a major barrier and their innovations reshaped society.

“From educator and civil rights pioneer Septima Poinsette Clark to acclaimed Broadway performer Josephine Mary Premice to award-winning author Edwidge Danticat, people of Haitian descent have made major contributions to the advancement of American society,” says Paul Altidor, Haiti’s Ambassador to the United States. “This exhibit is an opportunity to educate the public about the link between Haiti and the United States.”

Women’s History Month is an opportunity to introduce this first chapter of “Pearls of Excellence” by featuring the contributions of remarkable women of Haitian descent from the civil rights and the political arena to medicine, education, religion, professional sports, entertainment and literature.

The exhibit, along with an extensive private art collection from prominent Haitian artists, is now on display at the Embassy of Haiti in Washington D.C., and is open to the public, at no charge, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday. Extended tour hours (until 8 p.m.) also are offered on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

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